A senior sous chef from Cheshire’s Carden Park hotel has won North West Young Chef 2018 following a six-way cook off held yesterday at Cheshire College South and West.
Cyril Gabriel saw off competition from chefs working at restaurants such as Northcote in Langho, Lancashire, and the Punchbowl at Crosthwaite, Cumbria.
The keywords of the competition this year were ‘local’ and ‘seasonal’. Gabriel cooked a three-course meal starting with Wye Valley asparagus served with a free-range poached egg and hollandaise sauce; a main course of Welsh mountain lamb saddle served with pickled baby carrots, pea textures, carrot jam, creamy mashed potato and lamb jus, followed by a lime biscuit dacquoise with cherry crémeux, stuffed caramelised cherry, praline chantilly cream, lemon balm and cherry beer ice-cream.
Gabriel said: “It was a hard day for all of us, real pressure and a hot kitchen, but I’m so happy to have come through as winner.
“For the final I submitted a more challenging menu than the one carried out in the semi-final as I wanted to push myself and show more skill. I was nervous in the lead up because of this, but once I got in the kitchen and started cooking, the nerves fell away.”
As well as the title, he won £500, a weekend for two at Cheshire’s The Mere Golf Resort and Spa, and automatic qualification into the semi-finals of the Craft Guild of Chefs’ Young National Chef of the Year competition.
Mai Trising of the Black Swan hotel in Kirkby Stephen took the runner-up spot.
The judging team included Essential Cuisine business development chef Jonathan Harvey-Barnes; ex-Le Gavroche head chef Steven Doherty; Paul Askew of Liverpool’s The Art School; Graham Price, formerly of pub group Brunning & Price; and Master Chef of Great Britain and chairman of the judges Brian Mellor.
Mellor said: “Yet again the technique on show across the board has been excellent. This was one of the hardest competitions we have ever had to judge, but in the end, Cyril’s consistent quality shone through.
“There was also real passion, pride and endeavour on show – something we’ve come to expect from the competition, but should never take for granted. We will be flying the flag for Cyril come the national semi-finals.”